Google is trying very hard to improve the data available on Google Maps for various regions of the world. In order to do this, they have launched a new tool called Map Maker, which uses a Wiki-like approach to mapping.
This tool, which was first launched in June 2008, will help to fill in details of locations on the relatively empty Google Maps of some nations. It will initially be used only in certain developing nations, where sophisticated data mapping techniques are not available.
Google is currently rolling out the service in India. They hope to be able to use this facility all over the world at a later stage.
By using Map Maker, it will be possible for anybody to add or edit information about roads, forests, tourist destinations and so on. Even factories, restaurants and airports can be marked. A drop-down list is provided, offering several options users can select from to provide the most appropriate label for a place they add to the map. This way, even though several people will contribute to the map of a given place, the tagging system will remain consistent and simple.
Individual neighborhoods can be identified through satellite imaging. However, this becomes a lot more difficult in the countryside, where vast stretches of paddy fields pock-marked by little villages all melt into each other.
Strangely enough, it is also not possible to label a village, town or city. So if Google Maps are unaware of the thousands of little villages in rural India, the residents or tourists who have been there cannot actually mark them on Map Maker.
The creator of this tool, Dr. Lalitesh Katragadda, says, “Google Map Maker solves an inherent need especially for countries such as ours (India) where maps data is sparse. This product embodies our passion to empower people everywhere, to share knowledge of the places they know best by creating maps.”
Although the changes made by people will be incorporated automatically into Google Maps, Google will be able to moderate entries if necessary.